Reality doesn’t feel like reality anymore, at least the way you’ve always believed reality would feel- like simple goodness and sometimes dark. Instead, reality feels like television static, like electric stormclouds, like the way the water pulls back before a tsunami.
Nothing outside of you is good or bad- there is only inside of you. There is the houndstooth of your internal static, and the steel cable of spinal cord, winding tighter. Your thoughts are like the sounds that digital alarms clocks made in the nineties, when you were late for school. Your whole body feels cold.
Inside of you is a cacophony or signals- here! Here! Here! Here! They say, like needy patrons in a busy restaurant. Outside of you, in the street, the rest of the world goes by. It blares its horns and you press your palms against your face, alarmed. You can’t be bothered with that. You can’t be bothered with that, now.
You’re in a tiny soundproof room that someone has built in the basement. There’s a drumset there and you’re playing it, and the noise is good, at first, but then you stop playing it and it keeps playing itself. A haunted drumset. Terrified, you press yourself against the wall. The noise hits the walls like paintballs and then clatters to the floor. The door is locked. You’ve locked yourself in. Suddenly you don’t know where you are anymore, or how you got there.
You’re at sea. You’ve forgotten how to navigate. There isn’t any wind, and it’s the wrong time of year for seabirds. Clouds roil in over the horizon and cover the stars. All you have in your boat is your own self- you were in a larger party of boats but you became disconnected, somehow, and now you don’t know where you are. You’re not even sure what day it is. You’re looking in the bottom of the boat for oars, and you find a book. You open the book but you can’t read it, the symbols don’t make any sense. You look at the pictures but they’re only pictures. You look out at the sea, but it’s only a sea.
You’re in the city and you can’t sleep properly. You wake up after just a few hours as if for some reason, but there’s no reason. The next night, when you put yourself to bed, you lie awake, your heart beating. You realize that you’ve become afraid to go to bed. Sleeping is just another thing to fail at.
While you’re sleeping a fog descends, and when you wake up you can’t see anywhere. The fog has seeped in through the open windows and now it obscures things just a few feet from your face. You’re no longer sure what the next thing is to do. What’s the right thing to do after waking up? Should you make breakfast, or walk your dog? The clock practically shouts at you. Here! Here! Here! But you can’t see anything, because of the fog.
In the middle of the sea, you cling to your boat. It’s a small, narrow, wooden boat and you cling to it. You’re lying curled in the bottom between the wooden benches, your fingers dug into the peeling wood. Now and then you raise your head and look over the lip of the boat at the sea. Every time you do this, the sea stretches even farther. Every time you do this, you are a little more disconnected from the land.
You want to stop looking out at the sea. You wish you had a tarp to pull over your head. A bright blue tarp to block out the light. You want to live in a world of diffused moonlight and your own shallow breaths. You have never been one of those people who sleep too much, and so you’ll just breathe, and be awake, and think of nothing.
Here! Here! Here! Here! The houndsteeth of static gnaw at your consciousness, polluting reality like silt poured into a glass of water. You’re awake, you’re on the open ocean in a storm; you’re lashed to the mast of the ship. You have no idea how long you’ve been there. There’s water in your dress and hair. You’ve forgotten to count the minutes, you’ve forgotten to want anything but that the rain would stop hitting you in the face, hitting and hitting and hitting you in the face, like sharp little pins. You want the rain to stop and you want everything to just stop, and for a moment you confuse sleep with death, and night with day, and the present moment with everything. You are present, now. You are so present you can’t think of anything else. There is no way to orient yourself in relation to anything else, there are no piles of little stones to mark the path. And you don’t know this, because nobody told you, or if they did tell you you’ve forgotten, or if you heard it once then you lost it when you lost everything, into the electrical storm of the sea- but all you have to do is hold onto the mast for dear life until the storm is over, just ride it- RIDE IT! LIKE A MECHANICAL BULL OF PAIN! And the minutes will pass without you knowing them, without you thinking them, without you being anywhere but where you are, in the body of the storm, all you have to do is STAY ON THE MAST- and in the morning the wind will die, and you’ll fall, and the horizon will crack open like an egg and there will be a sunrise. And you’ll sit up, and the beauty of the sunrise will shock you, because you’ll look at it, and you’ll know that it’s new- you’ll know that something has happened, and now here’s this new thing, that never before this moment existed, not even in the thoughts of one single person. And you’ll brush the silt off your dress and look at it, on the palms of your hands, and you’ll look at the sky, and the newness of this sunrise will mute everything inside of you, the way it flickers orange on the horizon, and you’ll realize that it’s the most beautiful thing that you have ever seen.